When I first started this blog in 2013, I was keen to post lots of different culinary experiences as well as my own cooking efforts. So writing up a great meal is obligatory!
We had a memorable breakfast back then, cooked in the beautiful Hunter Valley, one of the best wine districts in NSW, if not in Australia, on a weekend retreat.
The brekkie was cooked by “the doctors”, two of my oldest and dearest friends. They cooked Bill Granger’s buttermilk pancakes and French toast, and the link to that post is here.
Here we are in 2018 and the doctors have done it again, cooking Bill’s buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, this time in Terrigal, a beachside locality on the central coast of NSW. The doctors have wisely decided to make Terrigal their other home, and we were lucky enough to have a relaxing weekend at their new abode.
Doctor B served the pancakes with fresh fruit, mango yoghurt and lashings of maple syrup. I probably shouldn’t have, but I just needed to add a spoonful of Nutella…
Ingredients 250g plain flour 3 teaspoons baking powder a pinch of salt 2 tablespoons sugar 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 750 ml buttermilk 75g unsalted butter, melted Unsalted butter, extra, for greasing the pan
Method Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush a small portion of butter over the base. For each pancake, ladle 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn the pancakes over and cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes.
I make croissants maybe a couple of times year. Not that often, as it’s an 18 hour process with so much proving to happen.
A while back I made croissants to take away to Bundanoon, in the beautiful Southern Highlands in NSW. We were staying at the lovely “Fulford Folly”, an idyllic country retreat with the added bonus of the company of two mini donkeys! We had a great break, and home made croissants on the verandah for breakfast seemed appropriate.
In previous posts I talk about my experimenting with enriched dough recipes, coming up with a recipe that works for both croissants and Danish pastries. So here is the recipe again, with photos of our breakfast. I served the croissants with lashings of cultured butter and my Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam, the recipe is here if you’re interested.
450g strong flour 40g caster sugar 10g salt 10g instant yeast 10g unsalted butter, chilled 300mls full fat milk 250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled 1 free-range egg
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.
Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour but preferably overnight.
Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.
Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.
Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.
Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.
The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.
Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.
Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.
Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. You could use the first triangle as template for the rest, but I find it easier just to measure and cut each one. Hopefully you will get 6 triangles from each strip, but I don’t think it matters if you get one more or one less!
Hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. This helps with getting a tight roll. Starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant shape. Repeat with each triangle. Keep the ends of the croissants straight, apparently this is more authentic.
Put the croissants onto the baking trays, leaving space in between each of them to expand. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag (I have some really large clear plastic bags I saved from a delivery or purchase)
Leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash and brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack. Of course you can eat them warm, but they do freeze well, so if you’re going to freeze them, do it as soon as they have cooled slightly.
It’s coming up for Halloween in week or so, and these rather lurid blue gems are the perfect thing for hungry Trick or Treaters! They’re not the prettiest cakes in the world, but they’re yummy, crammed full of blueberries and iced with a lemon glaze. And their “blue blood” dripping dripping down the sides is sure to be a winner!
A word of warning: they’re very moist, so grease your molds really well, or maybe use paper cases. A couple of my bottoms stuck to the molds, because the mixture was so moist.
Icing Juice of a lemon 1 1/2 cups icing sugar Blue food colouring
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Grease a 6 cup large muffin mould, or use a normal muffin mould and you will get 6-8 smaller cakes. Remember to grease very well or use paper cases.
Put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until the eggs are frothy. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has increased in volume. Add the the oil and the fresh blueberries and continue whisking. You actually want the fresh blueberries to break up a bit to give some “blue” colour to the mixture. Add the yoghurt and whisk until incorporated. The mixture will be quite liquid.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla paste. Gently incorporate into the mixture. Fold in the frozen blueberries.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin holes, filling to about three quarters way up.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, but the cakes may cook more quickly. Check the cakes at 15 minutes and then at 5 minutes intervals, using a skewer to test for “doneness”.
Cool for 5 minutes before very carefully turning out the cakes.
To make the icing, add enough of the juice of a lemon to the icing sugar to make a droppable icing. Spoon out half of the lemon icing and add blue food colour to the half mixture drop by drop until you have the right shade of blue.
Ice the cakes with the both the plain icing and blue icing in whatever artistic or crazy way you like! But make sure the icing drips to suit the Halloween theme! Finally add a blueberry on top of each cake.
It’s the last couple of weeks for blood oranges in Sydney. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges – I await the arrival of these ruby red gems eagerly each year and try to include them in lots of delicious recipes. I made these mini cakes a year ago, and, looking over blood orange recipes, thought I would repost this one again, just in time for the last of the fruit.
These are some more blood orange treats I have posted and are definitely worth a try.
Here’s the recipe for these “mini” blood orange cakes.
Candied orange slices
2 blood oranges
200g caster sugar
2 blood oranges
200g caster sugar
125g very soft butter
2 free range eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
For the candied orange slices, finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.
Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
I use a set of mini cake tins which have removeable bottoms for these upside cakes, see the photo.
You could also use mini springform tins, but you will end up with small cakes rather than mini cakes.If you don’t have a tin/s with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.
Grease whatever tins you are using well, and line the bases with circles of baking paper.
Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture. Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled!
Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled! Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.
Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin/s, one should be enough unless you are using a larger tin. Be as artistic as possible, remembering, as these are upside down cakes, that the bottoms become the top! Place the batter over the top of the slices.
Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter. If you are using small springform pans you will need a little longer.
Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin/s on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the tin/s. Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.
Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve.
It’s no secret that this quirky writer loves bread in all its glorious forms! And I particularly love coming up with my own variations of well known recipes.
Chelsea buns – love them! I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting with different fillings, and I think I may have come up with a winner. Maraschino cherries and marzipan make for a bun with an almond flavour, and are a little sweeter than ordinary Chelsea buns. I put some marzipan through the dough as well, and this helped to make the buns really moist, and keep fresh for longer too.
You can make your own marzipan – I always do so at Christmas for the Christmas Cake and to make marzipan fruit – but for this recipe I use store bought. A great brand in Australia is Blackwood Lane. They have a marvellous kitchen and baking supplies store in Melbourne where you can buy hard to find baking utensils as well as their famous marzipan. You can also order the marzipan online, and it’s available in supermarkets.
The buns are quite sweet – so feel free to add less sugar or cherries in the filling. I think the marzipan quantities are fine, as you want that lovely “almondy” taste.
250g plain white flour 250g strong white flour 8g table salt 7g instant yeast 50g caster sugar 280g milk, warmed until tepid 1 free-range egg, at room temperature 50g unsalted butter 100g of a 250g block of marzipan, roughly sliced
50g unsalted butter, melted 70g brown sugar 30g raw sugar or Demerara sugar 150g marzipan – the rest of the block 100g Maraschino cherries, drained, reserving the liquid. (Make sure you take the stems off!) 100g sultanas or golden raisins
1 tbls strawberry jam, sieved, mixed with a little warm water
200g icing sugar Juice of 1/ lemon Liquid from the Maraschino cherries
Place the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, tepid milk, and egg into a large bowl and mix together using an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead in the mixer about for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter and add, with the chopped marzipan, to the dough, mixing until the butter and marzipan is completely combined. This should take 2 or 3 minutes in the mixer.
Cover the bowl (I use a disposable shower cap but cling film is fine) and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, until it has grown to roughly double its original size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.
Melt the butter and brush over the dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with both sugars. Scatter the Maraschino cherries and the sultanas or golden raisins over the dough, making sure you cover all of the dough.
Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.
Line a large baking dish with a piece of baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down.
Cover the dish with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns have risen.
15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.
Remove from the oven, and brush with the strawberry glaze while still warm. Cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, separate them ready for icing.
For the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and enough of the cherry liquid until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon. Go for the rustic look!
I was flicking through my mother’s well thumbed and dearly loved hand written recipe book, looking for inspiration for a sweet treat to make. I came across her recipe for German Biscuits, a lovely biscuit, jam and meringue recipe. I have made and blogged German Biscuits before – see here for the post. Where the recipe comes from is a little unclear as my post details, but presumably it would be German in origin!
This time I made the slice, as this is what it really is, with cherry jam, instead of apricot, but really any kind of jam works fine.
2 tbls butter 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs (yolks and whites separated) 1 cup SR flour or enough to make a stiff dough Cherry jam Flaked almonds
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line a square baking tin with baking paper. I used a 20cm square tin.
Cream the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor. Add the beaten egg yolks with a very little water. Mix in the sifted flour. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, and place in the lined tin. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the biscuit is cooked and golden on top. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 130 degrees C.
Spread the biscuit with the cherry jam to cover. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating mixture until it is of stiff meringue consistency.
Spoon the meringue over the cherry jam, creating rough peaks. Sprinkle liberally with the almonds. Bake in a slow oven to dry the meringue for about 15 minutes. You can open the oven door after 15 minutes and check to see if the meringue is firm to the touch but still has a marshmallow consistency. Cook for a little longer if necessary.
Remove from the oven and when cool, remove the slice by lifting the baking paper out of the tin. Cut into squares to serve.
Lasagne is one of those really easy dishes that you can prepare ahead of time, stick in the fridge or freezer for later, and heat up whenever you want.
I recently had a lovely goat’s cheese lasagne at my local pub – a bubbling individual ramekin full of cheesy layers and really quite delicious!
So I decided to make a lasagne this weekend – this time a larger sharing version. It was pretty simple, and really, you can put anything you like in the filling, although I do recommend goat’s cheese for its creamy and slightly pungent flavour.
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves 1 400g tin whole tomatoes 1 tsp sugar 1 big leek or 2 smaller ones 250g goat’s cheese 1 tbls milk 150g Greek yoghurt Fresh lasagne sheets – enough to make 3 layers Parmesan to grate over the lasagne Cherry tomatoes, sage leaves Fresh basil leaves
For the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic and fry gently until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and using the tin as a measure, add a tinful of water. Add a good grind of rock salt and black pepper and the teaspoon of sugar. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce is thick and reduced, about 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon occasionally as you stir the sauce.
Wash the leek/s carefully to remove any dirt or grit. Finely chop the leeks. Put another frying pan on medium heat – or you can save washing up like me and use the tomato pan after they have finished cooking! Add the other tablespoon of oil, and when the oil is hot, add the chopped leeks. Stir for a minute or two, moving the leeks around to make sure they are all starting to cook down. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the leeks are softened.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Break the goat’s cheese up, you still wants sine chunks so no need to blend or process. Add the milk to loosen the mix, and then add the Greek yoghurt. You are looking for a thick bit spreadable consistency. Season with a grind or two of rock salt and black pepper.
Now for the layering. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Add 1/3 of the leeks.Now put a layer of lasagne sheets on top. The size of your baking dish will determine how many sheets or partial sheets you need. I used one and a half per layer. Spoon ¼ of the goat’s cheese mixture over the lasagne sheets. Now start again and layer 1/3 tomato, 1/3 leeks, lasagne sheets and ¼ goat’s cheese. Finish with the rest of the tomato, the leeks and a lasagne layer. Spread the remaining ½ goat’s cheese mixture thickly over the top of the lasagne. Grate as much Parmesan as you fancy over the top, and scatter some cherry tomorrow halves and sage leaves.
Place in the bottom of the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and scatter over a few fresh basil leaves before serving.
NB You could freeze the lasagne before baking, or after cooking, freeze whole or divided into meal size portions.